Prince guides Canadian guitarist in 3rdEyeGirl
Group members are always the last to know. At least the members of Prince’s group are.
Just ask Donna Grantis, the Canadian guitarist for Prince’s new band 3rdEyeGirl. Since arriving two years ago, she has learned that he can be as enigmatic in private as in public.
“Yes, we are definitely on our toes,” confirms the Toronto musician, speaking of her new digs near the famous Paisley Park complex in Prince, southwest Minneapolis. âIt’s a lot about living in the moment. Which is a really exciting and cool way to live.
Example: Grantis and her fellow Girls – American drummer Hannah Ford and Danish bassist Ida Nielsen – learned their band’s name from a late-night TV host. On air.
âWe had a gig on Jimmy Fallon,â she recalls. “And that was the first time we realized we were 3rdEyeGirl. There was a lot of mystery behind the name. The girls and I weren’t sure if we were 3rdEyeGirl, or if Prince was 3rdEyeGirl, or if that ‘ was a piece of art or what was going on. It wasn’t until we were on Jimmy Fallon and he said, “Ladies and gentlemen, 3rdEyeGirl,” that we knew. When we walked off the stage , we all looked at each other and we kissed and we were like, “We’re 3rdEyeGirl!” “
Hopefully someone has made Grantis clear that she and her band mates will be on Saturday Night Live this week, playing an eight-minute number with their employer. Anyway, here’s what she had to say about her secret boss, her new albums Art Official Age and PlectrumElectrum, and the court life of His Purple Majesty.
How does a nice Canadian end up playing with Prince?
Prince asked Hannah, the band’s drummer, to find a guitarist in November 2012. She searched the internet and came across my YouTube videos and my website and passed my information on to Prince, and I was invited to Paisley Park for jamming. . I was given a short list of songs to learn – Endorphinmachine, Cause and Effect, Purple Rain and a few more – and when I got there I went straight to Paisley Park, set up my gear, Prince walked in and showed up, and then we just started playing.
So he just walks around in jeans and a T-shirt?
Are you taller than him?
Do you have the right to say if you are taller than him?
Well, we’re pretty close in size. It’s pretty cool, because if he has a cool jacket, maybe it will fit me.
How did you know when you got the job?
There was just a very natural process. After jamming that day we were given more songs to learn. And then more songs. And then before we knew it, we had a set. Then there was a video uploaded of us playing. Then we broke up for the holidays and I was invited back and we just started jamming all day and all night and before we knew it we had a gig. Then we did a tour. We have played a number of hit and run shows in Europe on very short notice. In fact, we found out some of them via Twitter from fans and we were like, “OK, we have a show tomorrow.”
He’s known as a control freak, but you three seem to have a lot of influence over PlectrumElectrum. We have the impression of being a real group.
It is absolutely like that. And the album recording process reflected that. Prince wrote these songs with us in mind and asked us to contribute. He could give me a chord progression, but he would like me to find an interesting and fresh voice. And he gave me the freedom to color the sounds and play with my pedals. Ditto for bass and drums. The funny thing is, we didn’t even know we were recording an album when we first started. It wasn’t until we started singing that we realized there was a bigger plan in the works.
You realize you are going to find out one day that you are fired on Twitter.
I know I know! (Laughs) But really, I think we have a strong chemistry. The great thing about it is that while it might sound a bit abstract and unorthodox, it keeps us really focused on the music. So it doesn’t matter if a take is used for the current album or video or if we’re playing a show, what consumes us is the music.